Friday, September 30, 2011

Concealed Guns Now Allowed at Oregon Universities

If you are a college student, how safe would you feel knowing that the people around you on campus may be armed with loaded handguns?  In class?  At football games?  At on-campus parties?  In university judicial hearings?  Even in campus daycare?

You should be concerned.  Among college-aged people (ages 18-30, to include most grad students), 81.5% of homicides and 46.5% of suicides are by firearms.  Homicide and suicide are the number 2 and number 3 causes of death in that age range (behind unintentional deaths, where firearms are about 1%) (based on CDC WISQARS data for 2008).  Percentages increase if you drop the age to undergrad ages (18-22), and the difference in ranking between accidental and homicide drop dramatically.

Prior to this week, the Oregon university system had a policy against possession of firearms on campus, with the exception of law enforcement.  Not anymore. 

NRA-sponsored legislative challenges to get guns on campus were rampant across the nation in 2011.

In the words of Paul Helmke, who had directed the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence until recently, “There’s a reason why this kind of wrongheaded legislation has now failed 56 times in 30 states. Parents, faculty, university leaders, and students understand that forcing more guns into more places is dangerous and unnecessary.” 

Quoting John Woods, founder of Students for Gun-Free Schools, whose girlfriend was murdered at Virginia Tech:  “Guns on campus is an ideological agenda that has been pushed by people who spend little or no time on college campuses, while it is opposed by students, faculty, staff, law enforcement, parents, university administrators, mental health professionals, and the survivors of the Virginia Tech shooting.”

College students, administrators, and faculty overwhelmingly oppose guns on campus.  As of June 16, 2011, over 275 colleges, universities and associations in 36 states have signed a resolution to keep campuses gun-free and have turned out in large numbers to oppose such laws at legislative hearings.

But the gun lobby’s failed attempts to force institutes of higher learning to accept weapons on their grounds hasn’t stopped them.  Instead, they are now searching for judicial avenues around the country.

In 2009, a student at Western Oregon University with a valid concealed weapons permit was caught carrying a concealed handgun on campus against school policy.  He was arrested, but the charges were eventually dropped.  Nonetheless, the extremist pro-gun lobby group, Oregon Firearms Federation, filed a lawsuit.  To illustrate their extremism, they advertise that they are “Oregon’s only no compromise lobbying group” who are “fighting the freedom  haters in court.”  The case went to Appeals court.  Now, sadly, the 3-judge panel on the Oregon Appeals Court has made a ruling, overturning the prohibition of guns on university property

The Oregon State Board of Higher Education hasn’t yet decided if they’ll appeal further.

Here is Ceasefire Oregon’s official statement on the ruling:

September 29, 2011 
Ceasefire Oregon Statement on Oregon Firearms Ed. Foundation v. Bd. of Higher Ed.  
An Oregon Court of Appeals decision announced on September 28 holds that the Oregon State Board of Higher Education lacks the necessary legal authority to regulate firearms on Oregon college campuses. The court invalidated a longstanding ban on guns on campus but also noted that the Second Amendment had nothing to do with its decision. 
Ceasefire Oregon urgently calls on Governor Kitzhaber to seek, and the Oregon Legislature to enact, a legislative ban on guns in Oregon schools. Ceasefire Oregon concurs in the judgment of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators that guns on campuses pose an elevated and unacceptable risk to students and staff. 

The pro-gun extremists think you’ll feel more comfortable and safer knowing there are armed people around you to play Wyatt Earp on your behalf.  They are also trying to remove or weaken any and all restrictions, including further background checks and training requirements for concealed weapons permits, nationwide.  But accidents happen every day, and there are plenty of violent and reactive people out there.  Where there are guns, there are gun crimes and accidents.

So the next time you’re at an Oregon football game, on-campus party, or just sitting in class, and someone gets belligerent, drunk, or appears suspicious in some manner, take a moment and wonder if he’s packing a loaded handgun.  It’s legal now.

UPDATE (10/4/11):  A related article, written by Elise Gautier (Board President of Ceasefire Oregon) and Penny Okamoto (Executive Director):


  1. you must posses a valid Oregon concealed weapons permit to carry a hand gun concealed. not just anyone can carry. Vtech was a perfect example of why we SHOULD ALLOW carry on campus. the shooter was the only one with a gun. its no wonder that he was able to kill so many people.

    what we should remember:
    exhibit a:

    exhibit b:

    i do agree that there should be at least a few classes and training before you can carry.

  2. Regarding "exhibit a": note that the shooting was off-campus. And in the words of a student interviewed on the video: "I think the campus is safe enough where you don't have to carry a weapon. It's just, maybe, if you live off-campus you feel a little unsafe." In other words, he feels safer on-campus (in that gun-free zone).

    Regarding "exhibit b": Yes, those are schools that have had shootings. It's true that no one was allowed to carry a gun and "play Wyatt Earp" (to quote myself from this post) and shoot the bad guys. However, I would counter that in mass shootings that have happened outside of university settings, including on military bases, no one intervened in any of them, either, despite the ability for citizens to carry guns. In other words, allowing guns on campus isn't likely to stop the shooters, but it definitely will increase the likelihood of homicides and accidents by students. In colleges all over the nation, the rate of gun-related crimes is far lower on-campus (in those gun-free zones) than in the surrounding city.

  3. The definition of 'college age' includes the peak criminal and gang years. Criminals account for most of the non-suicide gun violence, it is misleading to lump them in with college students.

    Mass shooters tend to choose places where they think resistance will be minimal. Mass shooters almost always give up or suicide once someone else shoots back. And when someone intervenes quickly enough, there's not an opportunity for it to be a mass shooting. Most of the benefit of concealed carry is not in criminals getting shot, it is in criminals not being assured of harmless victims. Unless accompanied by unrealistic increases in physical security, banning guns in 'sensitive' areas is likely to make them more attractive to mass shooters.

    In general, proponents of expansion of licensed concealed carry keep predicting minimal issues and a slight drop in crime, while anti-gun activists keep predicting severe problems, even when similar measures have not been a problem in other states. Once enough time has passed to judge these predictions, one side is consistently more accurate than the other.

  4. Unfortunately, "feeling safer" doesn't actually mean safer.

  5. I agree with Sevesteen about the "peak years" including those bad ghetto boys when you quote stats. Nevertheless, your first paragraph says it all for me.

    "loaded handguns? In class? At football games? At on-campus parties? In university judicial hearings? Even in campus daycare?"

    It's an absurdity. The gun rights folks have lost all perspective in their zeal for minor victories.

  6. @Baldr - you may not know this, but YOU CANNOT HAVE A WEAPON ON A MILITARY BASE!!!! That's why Maj. Hasan was able to go postal at Ft. Hood and was taken down by the local police. The soldiers there were not armed, which is proof why had they been, perhaps people would have survived.

    As for your theory of no one stopping shooters in mass attacks, look no further than Colorado where an armed volunteer security guard, a member of the church, thought it best to bring her sidearm, which she used to drop an attacker. 'Nuff said.

    -Dirk Diggler

  7. "If you are a college student, how safe would you feel knowing that the people around you on campus may be armed with loaded handguns? In class? At football games? At on-campus parties? In university judicial hearings? Even in campus daycare?"

    Much safer than I would without concealed carry.

  8. If you are a college student, how safe would you feel knowing that the people around you on campus may be armed with loaded handguns?

    Well, when I was a college student at Portland State, I would have felt just fine.

    In fact, I pretty much assumed at least some of my classmates were carrying even though it was illegal.

    Certainly disarming people has had zero noticeable effect on stopping campus killings. Somehow the fact that it's illegal to bring a gun onto campus never stops someone bent on murder - probably because murder's also illegal, and much more harshly punished.

    ("However, I would counter that in mass shootings that have happened outside of university settings, including on military bases, no one intervened in any of them, either, despite the ability for citizens to carry guns"


    You need to do a little more research, then.

    (Okay, that last one is a university setting, but frankly I don't see why that affects the argument.)

    [Remember that on military bases outside of war zones, only MPs are carrying guns, except at a shooting range.

    At the time of the last mass shooting on a military base in the US, it was noted that it was illegal for soldiers to carry a pistol at that base; my impression and all the data I can find suggest this is the rule, not the exception.

    And you can't just run to the armory and grab a rifle at will, even if you could do so in time.]

  9. Does anyone really think that the prohibition on carrying a gun prevents any criminal intent on harm from carrying a gun wherever he/she wants? Of course not, they are criminals for a reason, they break laws! Therefore, the rule does nothing to keep you safer, while doing everything to ensure that those of us who do follow the law are unable to defend ourselves, much less anyone around us. As "Patrick" says earlier, "feeling safer doesn't actually mean safer". As a "Pro-Gun" person, I can get behind needing instruction and a background check such as required to obtain a concealed carry permit, but arbitrary rules about where I can or cannot carry my weapon are preposterous. How is the campus or the cafe across the street from the campus any different? In the case of these laws being in effect they are different only in that by patronizing one area I myself am a criminal if I don't disarm first, and in the other, I'm not.

  10. " mass shootings that have happened outside of university settings, including on military bases..."

    Military bases are a poor example. Only the on-duty security personel and law-enforcement are generally allowed to carry and large bases still have emergency-response times of over five minutes...a lot can happen in five minutes.

    I remember hearing about a shooting spree at a mall a few years back...stopped by the only person in the mall who was legally permitted to carry (he was a cop). I wonder how much sooner that guy could have been brought down if somebody closer could have taken action.

    There was another spree in Colorado that took place in multiple locations...all the kind of places you wouldn't expect anyone to carry, until the shooter went into a church. Yes, for those who don't remember, a woman sitting in the pew at her local church stood up, legally armed, and shot the bad guy.

    Wounded, he proceeded to go down as another "gun suicide" after seeing the futility of his continued existence.

    There's no guarantee that an armed person would be able to stop the attack, but using force to remove people's right to effectively defend themselves seems pretty hard to justify...


  11. @Brian: you are assuming that shootings only happen by criminals who are planning an assault. However, the vast majority of shootings are not planned. The person with the gun may have carried only for their own safety, but become drunk, enraged, or simply clumsy. It happens all the time, but now you are combining that with situations that increase the likelihood of danger (situations where alcohol is served, such as football games or on-campus parties, and the stress of college life) and with an age range that is most prone to homicidal shootings, suicide, fighting, and impulsive behavior. It's not the same as a typical public location, like "the cafe across the street."

  12. @Dirk: you are correct about general gun carrying on military bases. Members of my family are MPs. What's your point?

    Do you have a reference or link for the shooting you mention? Are you certain the suspect was intending on a mass shooting, or just a single target?

  13. Can you please cite the case where a person carrying for personal protection became either drunk/enraged/clumsy and shot enough people to qualify as a 'mass shooter'?

  14. @ Cormac:
    Re the mall shooting: Yes, but no one did stop him -- except the person paid to do so. You might also wonder how many concealed carriers were there but did nothing.

    Re the church shooter: Do you have a link?

  15. @ Min: why would you think only a "mass shooting" in important?

    But, yes, there are plenty of examples. Here are two recent ones:

    If you want more examples of previously law-abiding gun owners, including concealed weapons permit holders, who murder others, go here:

  16. @ Sigivald: Good points. Though extremely rare, you did find some cases where someone who was armed intervened. But see my response to Brian, in that I feel most shootings that would result are not due to a criminal who planned on a mass shooting.

  17. "Among college-aged people (ages 18-30, to include most grad students), 81.5% of homicides and 46.5% of suicides are by firearms."

    You wouldn't happen to have the data for 21 to 30 years old, would you? Since you have to be 21 years old or older to have a concealed weapons permit in Oregon (or most other states, for that matter), it would make sense to use data that didn't artificially inflate the numbers. Being a generic compilation of data all demographics are being lumped together, so these numbers are practically unusable for the comparison you are making anyway.

  18. Baldr--A quick read of your examples doesn't indicate that either gunman had a carry license, or was carrying for personal protection. Statistically a very few of us with licenses screw up, but all available evidence indicates that we are many times less violent and more law abiding than average.

    In the Salt Lake City mall shooting, the cop was off duty, not being paid to deal with the shooter. That particular mall was at least technically a no-carry zone, although it may have been buried deep in a long list of rules that nobody reads. The key in a mass shooting is quick response--the faster a good guy shoots back, the fewer people die.

    Keep and bear go together--If guns are available but rules require that good guys lock theirs up at home, the bad guys get the benefits of availability plus the benefits of disarmed victims.

  19. @ Jim: If you go to the link for the CDC WISQARS database that I posted, you can do searches. I did one for the age range of 21-30. The numbers are practically the same (80.6% who die by homicide are from firearms, 46.7% who die by suicide use firearms).

    But you make a wrong assumption. Your comment would suggest that only those who have concealed permits need to be counted. But their actions affect all who are on campus, including those younger than them. So it wouldn't be an artificial inflation.

  20. Only those who have a concealed carry permit may legally carry a concealed weapon. If younger students start carrying concealed then they are already breaking the law.

    I think you will find that most who carry concealed do not carry a sign saying they are carrying a weapon (or otherwise advertise that they are carrying), so I'm not sure how much an effect they will have on those too young to have a permit since most will never know.

  21. But their actions affect all who are on campus, including those younger than them

    This is the point we are trying to make--if you let me carry on campus, the young violent thugs are less likely to attack.

    That is at least as reasonable as the idea that young thugs will be more likely to carry and shoot if I'm allowed to carry.

  22. Sure, for all those thugs hanging out on campus... Did you actually *go* to college?

  23. Not sure about Sevesteen, but I did. Didn't see any actual thugs, but there was the occasional assault and a women getting raped was not unheard of. Evil people do not necessarily look evil. Even good people can commit evil acts. Students are people, and college is a community that has all types.

  24. I would like to comment on the two anecdotal examples of law-abiding people gone bad that you posted at 7:52pm on 10/3.

    1. In the example of the shooting at the roller rink, the article never states whether the shooter has a criminal record or whether he is a CCW holder. How do you know he is law-abiding? If he was not a CCW holder, then the act of carrying the firearm concealed is a felony and automatically makes him a criminal. I wonder if the roller-skating rink was a "gun-free zone?"

    2. In your second example, the shooting on a California college campus, again, how do we know whether the shooter has a criminal record? Since it occurred in CA, a state where it is notoriously hard to get a CCW, unless you are a movie star, I would estimate the chance that the shooter had a CCW to be about a .01%. Again, since this shooting occurred on a college campus, did the fact that it is a "gun free" zone protect the victims?

    The only way to prevent the people used as your examples from obtaining firearms is an outright gun ban and confiscation program. Is that your goal?

  25. "However, I would counter that in mass shootings that have happened outside of university settings, including on military bases, no one intervened in any of them, either, despite the ability for citizens to carry guns."

    You state that no one intervened and that is simply not true. Several Soldiers attempted to stop MAJ. Hassan even though they were NOT armed. They were shot by him as they attempted to save other Soldiers lives by running towards the shooter. If these Soldiers had been allowed to be armed they would have ended the threat before he was able to kill so many others.

    "If you go to the link for the CDC WISQARS database that I posted, you can do searches. I did one for the age range of 21-30. The numbers are practically the same (80.6% who die by homicide are from firearms"

    "Sure, for all those thugs hanging out on campus... Did you actually *go* to college? "

    Your words are in quotations, and I high lighted the second one because it hits on why the numbers in your search are so high. They include everyone, 18-30 not just college age individuals. The age range that you searched in is the prime age range of gang members and other violent criminals. I would challenge you to do a search and see how many news stories showed a homicide that was related to gang activity, or was committed by someone well on the path to career criminal while in the commission of another crime vs. college aged individuals with no criminal history or minimal non violent criminal history that went off the deep end and shot someone. The CDC numbers also include every Law Enforcement shooting that takes place in the country that involved a person that fell within your age range search.
    Taking all of that into account I would say that the numbers are incredibly skewed. The number of college aged individuals that are actually in college that are killed by a gun is much much lower. Thus your numbers overstate the "danger" that a college aged person experiences from a gun.

    Also those of us with CCPs do not want to be Wyatt Earp. If we did we go into Law Enforcement. My wife and I carry so as to protect ourselves. Period. My first thought if someone is shooting is to protect my family first and foremost. If we can leave and escape safely we will do so without drawing or shooting our weapons. However, if the threat is immediate and life threatening to my family or I than I will remove the threat.

  26. Two of the most common arguments for not allowing CCP on campus is that a)students who do carry are more likely to shoot fellow students in the cross fire than the shooter and b)Campus safety is there for a reason, they are trained and will respond appropriately for the event taking place.

    For argument a) I would ask, if you were in a classroom and someone came in and started shooting would you rather someone responded and did something or would you rather no one had the ability to respond. This ties into the second argument, if you were the unlucky one that is in the first classroom targeted there is no way possible for campus security to respond quickly enough to save anyone unless they happened to be right outside.

    Lets take step back from the "College Mass Shooting" scenario and look at something more broad. Do you take a cell phone, mace, or tell someone where you are going if you go for a run, walk, jog, etc at night or when you are downtown. Or at the very least do you think to yourself at some point if I am attacked I will do this_______(other than lie there, curl up and give in) If so, why? If not, why not? If you do than it is because you want to be prepared in some way to protect yourself in the however unlikely event that you are a victim of a violent crime. People that carry concealed are no different, we however choose to carry guns instead of items that may or may not work in an attack. Also what would you say to the thousands of college aged women who are victims of sexual assault? Would you tell them to carry a whistle, or mace but Im sorry guns and knives are just too violent? Students and the law abiding public in general should have every means necessary to protect themselves, at what point do we tell someone Im sorry but your right to protect yourself from violence is going to be limited? Yes, there are other non lethal measures available but when personal security and protection are on the line people should have every available means, not just what others have decided is appropriate. There is also no guarantee that carrying a gun will save you but it increases those odds if you are attacked. I would rather die or be seriously injured knowing I did everything possible in my power to protect myself or my family. Its not a fear thing it is a preparedness thing.
    Another example: If you go camping you plan for rain or inclement weather so you bring the necessary equipment, even if the forecast is for beautiful weather, because in the woods, especially in the NW you never know. You don't want to have to use it, you don't go looking for situations that would cause you to use it but if the weather turns you are prepared to keep yourself dry and warm and protected. Its the same for carrying a concealed weapon.

  27. I'm defining thug as someone who would abuse others with violence or threats. If there are no thugs, who are these 20 year old people who will start carrying and cause problems because I'm allowed to?

  28. @ Anonymous: You make the assumption that carrying a concealed weapon will make you safer, because you think you'll get the jump on the shooter and will get him before he gets you.

    However, a study in 2009 showed otherwise. Overall, Branas's study found that people who carried guns were 4.5 times as likely to be shot and 4.2 times as likely to get killed compared with unarmed citizens. When the team looked at shootings in which victims had a chance to defend themselves, their odds of getting shot were even higher. Here's a link to a writeup about it:

    So carrying doesn't "increase the odds" of saving you.

    Yes, I recommend women carry mace, whistle, or or other non-lethal weapons or alert devices, instead of guns.

    You also ignore the possibility of the concealed weapon being stolen, accidently fired, taken away from the defender during an attack, or shot in a moment of anger or drunkenness.

  29. Unless I've missed something, this study didn't control for whether the gun was carried legally or not--a huge factor. This is true of every 'guns are more dangerous to their owners' study I've seen--Criminals are far more likely to get into shootings than decent people, and apparently including criminals is the only way to get the desired result.

  30. A gun is a gun, Sevesteen. Whether the holder has a concealed carry permit or not, the use is the same, and just as likely to increase your odds of getting killed.

  31. A gun is a gun, Sevesteen. Whether the holder has a concealed carry permit or not, the use is the same, and just as likely to increase your odds of getting killed.

    That is one of the silliest arguments I've heard from your side. If that were even close to true, there would be an anti-gun study that showed it was more dangerous to be a license holder with a gun, the studies wouldn't need to include criminals to get the 'right' results. I'm sure the studies have been done this way, but since the results weren't favorable they weren't released.

    It is dangerous to be a criminal--murder victims are very disproportionately convicted felons. It is dangerous (but probably less so) to be an armed soldier--by your logic here, the danger is because they are carrying a gun, and if they would go into battle unarmed, they would be more likely to survive.